“Theo Geek” Andrew raises an important point when he discusses A spectator’s view of the atonement. He quotes someone (“a poster on the internet” – I wish he would acknowledge his sources) complaining that the Christus Victor model of the atonement is irrelevant, and he notes that the same could be said of the penal substitutionary model. Indeed.
As I have mentioned before, there are several valid models of the atonement; Andrew lists some of them. Each of these describes well one aspect of the atonement, but none of them is complete and adequate in itself. For the atonement is more profound than can be fully described in human words. But the model which is most relevant for any individual is the one which meets their felt needs.
Do you feel defeated by evil forces stronger than you? Or did you before you were a Christian? Then Christus Victor is the model you need.
Do you feel that you are trapped or in bondage? Or did you? Then ransom from Satan is the model you need.
Do you, or did you, feel guilty because of your sin? Then PSA is the model for you.
Do you, or did you, feel ashamed because you have let down your Lord? Then you need the satisfaction model.
Do you, or did you, feel lost in a moral maze? Then you need a moral exemplar – etcetera etcetera.
In fact, apart from Christ all of us are defeated, in bondage, guilty, ashamed and lost, and so all of these models, and more, apply to all of us. But the model which speaks most to us is the one which applies most immediately to our personal situation and feelings. So let us not insist on narrowing down the atonement to a one size fits all simple doctrine. Let us instead acknowledge the rich and all encompassing nature of what Christ has done to meet the needs of each one of us.